Election Recap - Superlative Style

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Now that the election-night confetti is swept up and banners have come down, it's time to take stock of the election highlights for teacher quality. It felt like this election lasted at least four years -- just like high school -- so we've gathered our thoughts high-school journalism style. 

Cutest couple -- Barack Obama and Arne Duncan. Who was the only cabinet secretary shooting hoops with POTUS on election day?  Arne Duncan.  Who delivered major reforms during the first four years of the Obama White House without any major scandals? Arne Duncan.  Friends since their days in Chicago, Duncan and Obama see eye to eye on policy and recreational sports.  Who could ask for more in a BFF?  

Oddest couple -- Conservatives and Teachers Unions. Unions and conservatives paired up to defeat ballot measures in both Idaho and South Dakota. The so-called Luna laws in Idaho were defeated eliminating plans for expansion of online classes, changes to teacher evaluation and compensation.  South Dakota saw RL 16 rejected that would have made changes to teacher evaluation similar to those favored by the Obama administration.  

Most likely to be missed -- State Superintendent of Indiana Tony Bennett. An ed reformer who said he "wouldn't make decisions on the basis of being elected or not," Bennett lost his bid for re-election after ticking off almost all the boxes in the ed reform checklist. While he had made changes to evaluations, state takeovers of failing schools, bargaining rules and the expansion of choice, he has said that his embrace of the Common Core seemed to be breaking point for Indiana voters. In addition to his work in Indiana, Bennett has been a leader nationally as Chair of Chiefs for Change.  Incidentally, Indiana takes the top spot for the state with the most progress in teacher policy since 2009 in our State Yearbook.  

Most likely to frustrate voters in the long run -- California's Prop 30. Governor Jerry Brown, his dog Sutter and MC Hammer all campaigned hard for Prop 30 and it came out ahead on Tuesday. That means the state will start paying K-14 education back by providing $2 billion of the $10 billion in deferred revenues owed. This is a good thing, but it doesn't increase the amount of funding going to schools; it just changes the timing. Additional funding will come in future years, but there's a good chance it will only start to catch up with what's already promised to schools by state law rather than going beyond it. Many districts were projecting additional school year reductions if Prop 30 failed. Its passage means things in California don't get worse, but it doesn't necessarily make it better.  

Most improved representation -- Women. Conventional wisdom has it that women pay more attention to education as a policy issue than men and it looks like we may just have enough women in office to put that conventional wisdom to the test. One in three newly elected members of Congress is a woman and now 20 members of the Senate are women. A full 40% of the US population now has a female senator.  New Hampshire has a Congressional delegation that is 100% women. 

Most likely to succeed -- Kids. We can't bet against them, no matter the odds.

If you've got suggestions for a superlative we've left out, tell us in the comments section below.  

We're not the only one thinking about this issue.  Half of the alphabet soup of education policy organizations have blogged or pontificated on the subject. If you are interested in a more detailed review, see the related reading for a number of additional thoughts on what the future holds.

-- Nancy Waymack